Robert Cray Band – That’s What I Heard

It’s difficult to believe that Robert Cray has been on the Blues scene for 40 years but his first album was released in 1980. And in that time the quality of his music has been consistently pretty strong but it is really in the last 10 years or so that he has really hit the musical heights of his early days.

This album is the freshest and most committed I’ve heard him in ages. His voice, that sweet and soulful instrument, is clear and powerful and the production, courtesy of Steve Jordan, has a real punch and grunt to it. From the opening notes of ‘Anything You Want’ to the last notes of Ashford/Chandler’s ‘Do It’ this is a brilliant classic Blues & R&B album.

This time around he has done a number of covers as well as contributing four new songs but the magic really comes from his vocal and guitar as well as songs that have had a strong impact on Cray over the years.

The version here of the traditional gospel song ‘Burying Ground’ is exquisite, throbbing keyboards and wonderful choir singing behind his vocals and that leads straight into Dedric Malones ‘You’re The One’ softly played old school r&b with a great vocal from Cray.
Curtis Mayfield’s ‘You’ll Want Me Back’, which was originally an Impressions number, has the wonderful sound of the post-Doo Wop period with muted trumpet and a fine guitar solo from Cray in the outro.

I love the Cray original ‘Hot’, smoking r&b with a great riff and a;; round performance.

His band are no slouches – Richard Cousins plays bass, Dover Weinberg is on keyboards, Terence F Clark is on drums and Steve Jordan weighs in with percussion and drums – and you can hear the comfortable familiarity between Cray and the band in the ease of the music. Never lacking in ‘edge’ but somehow also smooth as velvet.

It’s all a great insight to Robert Cray’s influences and favourites and it’s also a great album for a Saturday night or Sunday morning.

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